Spain Looks to Africa for Ways to Curb Migrant Influx

Like thousands before him, Oufame Mdiay left Senegal in search of work and a better future.Taking his life in his hands, he spent a week in a cramped boat with nearly 130 others who recently made the Atlantic journey from Senegal to Spain’s Canary Islands, 100 kilometers off the coast of Morocco.  “I want to find work here as there is nothing for me back in Senegal. I came with my four brothers,” he told VOA from his temporary new home on the island of Gran Canaria.The 19-year-old is learning Spanish while he waits to find out if his claim for asylum will be successful – or he will be deported back to Senegal.Two migrants are photographed together in the tents where they have lived for weeks in La Laguna, on the island of Tenerife, Spain, April 5, 2021.Analysts believe Spain’s diplomatic initiative needs to reverse years of neglect of the region by Europe while China has forged strong links with many African states.“Europe has got to get a more efficient relationship with Africa in terms of instilling more democracy, better practices for immigration and economic investment. They have got to reverse this division which has existed until now,” Carmen González, an expert in international migration at the Real Elcano Institute, a Madrid research organization, said. She said opening up an Erasmus scheme for African students would start to give them a chance to train for qualified jobs.González said Spain, like other southern European countries such as Greece and Italy that have received large numbers of migrants in recent years, have failed to obtain the support they need from the EU to cope with the burden. “The EU has to take into account more the African perspective or the problem will carry on. There must be more solidarity among EU states.” In COVID-19 Migration Surge, Africans Take a More Dangerous Route Traffickers send African migrants to Canary Islands as authorities clamp down on Mediterranean route to Spain’s mainlandNGOs welcomed the Spanish government’s initiative but called for more humanitarian visas for migrants to gain access to Europe instead of closing frontiers in return for economic aid.“One of the ways for legal and secure access to Spain that they could start is the concession of more humanitarian visas for people who feel that they have been forced to leave their countries because they have no other option, especially from African countries,” Nuria Ferre, of the Spanish Commission for Refugees, told VOA.“We think this would be the best way to reduce illegal immigration and not asking transit countries to close their frontiers in return for more aid for development,” Ferre said.